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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

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New Pornographers show off at Pabst show


If there's one thing I've learned about the New Pornographers in the past months, it's that the band approaches music through the open door, the window with a soft wind blowing through or a clever entrance way somewhere between the two.

In other words, the band has at its disposal a mouth-watering assortment of incredibly talented singers -- A.C. Newman, Dan Bejar, Neko Case and Kathryn Calder -- each with their own specialties and who help keep things interesting in the power pop and rock and roll world of the New Pornographers.

Last night, the band returned to Milwaukee once again, throwing the crowd nuggets from their five albums and offering chances for each of the singers (and whole band) to shine.

The band got another chance to flex its muscle and show off their latest album "Together" before a sold out crowd. And show off they did, as they sprinted a marathon of catchy, wildly entertaining, driven power pop and rock melodies with the band's intelligent and witty lyrics not getting lost or losing speed as there was not much easing up on the accelerator in their many laps.

The band featured a diverse helping along the way that should have quenched the crowd's uncontrollable fascination with this band. They fired into songs like "Up In the Dark" (singing "What's Love? What turns up in the Dark?" which might be aptly put in the dimly lit Pabst and many diehard and new fans), "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras," "Crash Years," the Bejar sung tunes "Silver Jenny Dollar," Newman's "Moves," and many more. It was clear they were having a blast as they gelled together on stage and rollicked through their many songs. Song like the heavy riffed punch of "Put Your Hands (Together)" got the crowd worked up into a frenzy. Newman offered to play a song request from the crowd but with so many requests coming at them it was clearly not easy to pick one.

Between songs the band's unquenchable joy came out in some funny dialog between band members and to the crowd (including a humorous conversation between Case and Newman about her making dog cookies for the crowd and also joking about Bejar stepping off stage every few songs or so).

Each time the band members switched off singing it was a joy as each of them provided something unique with Case being on one end of the spectrum, Bejar on the other and Newman somewhere between. Calder even got in the action with the excellent "Adventures in Solitude." But for myself, and many others, I would have to say Neko Case stole the show with her beautifully soulful voice. She provided some of the most memorable moments with moving renditions of songs like "Crash Years" and "My Shepherd."

It was no question that the New Pornographers felt comfy at the Pabst Theater. Newman expressed his gratitude to the theater's hospitality and said he had reconsidered his vote from Pitchfork for his favorite venues to play and had changed it to the Pabst. "I can change my vote, can't I?" Newman said. You sure can.

For many, the New Pornographers were only one part of a very special night of music. Openers The Duchess and the Duke and The Dodos, charged into the Pabst with quality sets with power and grace.

I've been looking forward to seeing The Duchess and the Duke for some time, having missed their last show in the city. When I hear them, I'm reminded a bit of early Rolling Stones and '60s but they're much more. Featuring dual male and female lead vocals and harmonies, the band shines live with their sweet and slow-burning rock and roll. The band finished with a power rendition of "I Am Just a Ghost," featuring silky harmonies and, in fact, ended with the whole band somewhat eerily singing the lyrics.

The Dodos followed that up with their own special blend of pop music. They recently are on a big tour and just played Bonnaroo but they didn't show any wear. With a fiery spit the band launched into a fast paced set, featuring their fairly frantic pop with a powerful drum beat. The band featured a band member who would switch from xylophone to the drum kit, sometimes playing both. It was a fairly short set, but what they did was great.

When it comes to getting the best of all worlds, last night certainly didn't disappoint.


Talkbacks

milwaukeeindiemusic | July 11, 2010 at 5:03 p.m. (report)

this will be my second time seeing them in concert and i loved them! so i have some new music for you guys! Kyle Andrews is an amazing artist and is giving away a free download of his new song so check it out and let me know how you like it! http://www.redmusic.com/smile/

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